For all of Maryland’s virtues, the state has some major corruption issues. For one, Maryland received low marks for corruption prevention in a Corruption Risk Report Card last year (which include grades of “F’ in executive accountability, legislative accountability, and public access to information). Oh, and then there was expanded gambling and a notorious Congressional gerrymander, both of which were steamrolled into existence and disingenuously argued for. There’s also the illegal arrangement that state and local governments have with their speed camera operators. Oh yeah, there’s also the issue of accountability in the comic-book-worthy prison scandal.
There’s a non-profit that would like to help us with those issues. OpenGov Foundation, a self-described “scrappy little non-profit, non-partisan outfit working to open government,” has launched an open-data website on Maryland law. Marylandcode.org makes state codes and laws easily accessible. It’s also an Application Programming Interface, which means it’s set up to allow programmers to create free apps that use the information in various ways.
It’s still in “public beta,” which means even as it’s now open for everyone to use, not all the bugs have been worked out, so be warned.
How much this project will empower Maryland’s citizenry and create more accountability in government depends on how we use it of course, but it sure would be nice for the Internet to live up to some its utopian promises.